Many people were surprised when Pittsburgh was chosen to host September's meeting of the "Group of Twenty" (G-20) finance ministers and central bank governors from around the world. Some still think of the once-gritty city as a smaller version of Detroit—dependent on a single, declining industry. But as local government and economic development agencies aimed to prove while the G-20 was in town, the Steel City is fast becoming a center of industrial innovation.
Among the technologies on display for visiting dignitaries and media were robots manufactured by Seegrid Corp. The five-year-old company, a spin-off from Carnegie-Mellon University's Robotics Institute, makes vision-guided robots that automate the movement of goods in warehouses and distribution centers. The AGV-like machines "learn" their jobs by moving along work paths under human guidance and then repeating those journeys as directed.